Everybody was astonished, and everybody's eyes were fixed on me inquiringly.
"How do you know that?" asked Sir Percival, speaking first.
"I found the dog here, dying, on the day when you all returned from abroad," I replied. "The poor creature had strayed into the plantation, and had been shot by your keeper."
"Whose dog was it?" inquired Sir Percival. "Not one of mine?"
"Did you try to save the poor thing?" asked Laura earnestly. "Surely you tried to save it, Marian?"
"Yes," I said, "the housekeeper and I both did our best—but the dog was mortally wounded, and he died under our hands."
"Whose dog was it?" persisted Sir Percival, repeating his question a little irritably. "One of mine?"
"No, not one of yours."
"Whose then? Did the housekeeper know?"
The housekeeper's report of Mrs. Catherick's desire to conceal her visit to Blackwater Park from Sir Percival's knowledge recurred to my memory the moment he put that last question, and I half doubted the discretion of answering it; but in my anxiety to quiet the general alarm, I had thoughtlessly advanced too far to draw back, except at the risk of exciting suspicion, which might only make matters worse. There was nothing for it but to answer at once, without reference to results.
"Yes," I said. "The housekeeper knew. She told me it was Mrs. Catherick's dog."
Sir Percival had hitherto remained at the inner end of the boat- house with Count Fosco, while I spoke to him from the door. But the instant Mrs. Catherick's name passed my lips he pushed by the Count roughly, and placed himself face to face with me under the open daylight.
"How came the housekeeper to know it was Mrs. Catherick's dog?" he asked, fixing his eyes on mine with a frowning interest and attention, which half angered, half startled me.
"She knew it," I said quietly, "because Mrs. Catherick brought the dog with her."
"Brought it with her? Where did she bring it with her?"
"To this house."
"What the devil did Mrs. Catherick want at this house?"